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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Instructional Computing II Journal 6: The Digital Divide

How has the Internet changed
a) the way we view information and information access?
b) access to 'literature', research, and quality 'text' as well as censorship or editing?

How we access information has drastically changed with the invention of the internet. I have decided to list a couple examples below.

  • Previously: People relied on their physicians, family members, or others who shared a similar experience and were within their social circles for information regarding illness.
  • Currently: These days we can turn the internet and use a multitude of resources.  WedMD, email communication with physicians, message boards and support groups for people with similar ailments can all help guide your search for knowledge of what's aching.  You can just Google your symptoms and possible diagnoses appear like magic!
  • Previously: One would use the phone book to seek the phone number of a business or person they were trying to reach.  Additionally, you used your home phone.  If you were out away from home you had to seek out a pay phone and try to remember those phone numbers.
  • Currently: The days of memorization and the Yellow Pages are OVER!  We have the Internet and to help us seek a number or a person or business.  We also have smart phones which is like having a phone, phone book, and computer all combined!  Who would have thought?
  • Previously: To get from A to Z one had to purchase a map at a gas station or AAA.  You had to learn the art of navigation and know your cardinal directions.  Traveling was essentially trial by error.  You made it, or you got lost and found your way through your mistakes.
  • Currently: MapQuest, Google Maps, Google Earth, GPS, Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, and the GPS navigation of a smartphone all allow us to reach our destinations without the headache!  While large paper maps may have been a big boisterous and inconvenient; the portable GPS device is often distracting.  Having to divert your eyes from the road to look at a tiny screen then focus back at the road and swerve across 3 lanes of highway traffic...well, that's dangerous!
  • Previously: You would go to the library, search through a card catalog, attempt to find one text.  Hopefully, this initial text's references and footnotes would lead you to ANOTHER text you could utilize.  All research had to be done physically in the library or you would have to check out the books or periodicals and take them home.  But how could your professors ensure that you were not plagiarizing?  That is a real mystery to me because I was not alive.  I would assume that the teacher would have to do the leg work as well and double check all the resources too.  Sounds TERRIBLE!
  • Currently: The internet has simplified the research process.  At the same time, it has produced some "bad" information because almost anyone is allowed to publish their opinions as fact online.  To begin the research process one should begin at their university's online library page.  You can access scholarly articles which are available for free using your school ID and password.  I have become a huge fan of Google Scholar which allows you to search for scholarly articles online.  It's almost easier than using the UF Library page and a lot of the same resources appear.  After I find my initial article I look at the references and use those as a starting point as to where to search for further information.  The method has not changed from the past to the present; just the media delivery form.  You don't have to lug books from the library, you can keep all your files on your iPad of laptop.  In regards to plagiarism, professors can now use countless websites that scan documents to pull text that is blatantly stolen. 
The questions stands: 
Could we survive without these new devices?
Obviously we lived our lives just fine before the invention of these technologies.  It may have taken longer and been "less convenient" to accomplish a task as easy as finding a new dentist, but we did it nonetheless. The tasks have remained the same, the way we accomplish them now involves technology that cuts time, connects us to one another, and enhances our abilities.  I think it is important to stay grounded in the real life though.  Teach your kids how to read a map.  Read an actual paper book.  And please, just go outside and lay in the grass and smell the flowers!

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